The Hero of Today

I understand that there are, and will continue to be, mixed emotions, reviews, opinions and ideas both for and against war. Regardless of all that, there are still soldiers who fight for our freedom on a daily basis. This isn't something that was done once and now we can forever remain in peace and harmony in a beautiful democratic world. This freedom is continually being fought for, and it costs dearly. The very concept of having the freedom to have different opinions is being fought for. Our futures are being fought for. If you stand with our soldiers, I applaud you. If you neglect and protest them, continue exercising the right to do so until it's stripped away from you because our soldiers gave you that right. Either way, please respect what they're doing for you, your families and your world.
I share parts of a note from my brother. In the midst of chaos and hopelessness, he finds strength. Surrounded by hate and vengeance, he finds courage. Knowing he has a beautiful wife and baby girl to come home to, he finds a willingness to keep their world great. In the midst of hell, he finds God.

Our team lives between two tents surrounded by mud walls w/ no roof, and I sleep in a sleeping bag on a cot w/ all of my stuff in the tent shared w/ 8 other guys and Allan, the military working dog.  Most missions are overnight ones and I find myself sleeping outside w/ animals usually in the dirt littered w/ goat/sheep poop.  We have no running water, and until very recently did all of our laundry by hand and showered using the water from an irrigation pump used to water a poppy field we called "Narnia" from the locals about 500m from our site.  (The TB destroyed the pump).  We eat shelf-stable MREs every single day and they are getting real old real fast, but I am at least thankful for food.  We eat afghan food a lot of times as well which mostly consists of rice, sheep/lamb, liver, Okra, and bread that usually is grainy and tastes like the sand is cooked right into it. 

I have a new team sergeant who runs the show here and he is an answer to prayer.  He has been deployed to Afghanistan every calendar year since 2002 (except once) and has multiple purple hearts and a silver star, among many other accolades.  He is tall, quiet, 48 years old, borderline deaf, and prays that God have mercy on our enemies every morning before we take off for a mission because we will not.  After a recent success against the enemy, he had everyone gather up and publicly gave thanks to God for our victory over the Taliban at the end of the night.  He reads his bible every day and wakes up at 3 am and goes to bed early and can walk for miles on end w/out stopping.  I am on his element now when we move out dismounted, which I prefer.  He prefers to defeat the enemy w/ organic weapons (i.e. the rifle in our hands we each carry) and maneuver on the enemy rather than call in for air support, which makes me just another SF soldier w/ a gun here for the most part.  We tracked (no joke) a cumulative of 27 miles (i.e.43k) from our last mission on foot over the course of two days, mostly due to a lot of moving and tracking the enemy on the run.    
In case you're wondering if prayer works, I will give today as an example of how I don't think we were just "lucky".  We went out expecting to do a 3-day mission to places never before visited by US or Coalition Forces.  We took contact from the enemy, as expected.  Our medic / sniper took rounds that impacted directly in front of his feet and behind him in an open area from AK-47s and PKM fire.  We took some in our direction and could hear them cracking overhead but we were not the main target of the shooters.  I don't think it was luck that no one has taken any rounds yet.  Last mission a guy had about 4 RPG rounds impact right next to his head.  Paul said "You can be thankful God put that boulder in front of you to shield you from the rockets."  Today we were forced to go back to our site because higher headquarters dictated it because there was a mistake at higher levels about our mission and where we were headed.  Dismayed, our team pressed on home.  Almost home, the lead element discovered some wires protruding from the ground, and had the dog Allan and his handler come and investigate.  After it was all said and done, we discovered 5 IEDs in the field we had just traversed to get to our location, meaning we had walked through a minefield and just happened to dodge the IEDs spaced out only 20 meters apart intended to blow us to pieces if we stepped on a pressure plate.  I don't think it was luck that no one was blown up on the way out there or on the way back.  We blew all 5 in place at once; it was pretty cool to watch I'll show you the video.  Crazy story a couple days ago 3 children from the same household were blown up by an IED set by the TB.  Our guys went out and blew in a place another one parallel to it.  The next day they went out looking for more IEDs, and Allan the dog ate a human ear of a kid it found.  I guess there were pieces of human meat everywhere and the mom was outside going ballistic cursing the Taliban.  This neighborhood is bit more rough than our cookie cutter one back home, to say the least. It is staggering to look back at the order of events the way things transpired and see the fingerprints of God all over our movements and the enemy's as well. 
So, as much as we have played IED-bingo the last 4 months both mounted and dismounted and taken rounds aimed directly at us the last week it is absolutely supernatural the protection that has surrounded this team.  I have two months left here and please pray that we continue to do damage to the enemy here and win over the locals and stay safe.  As much as it sucks, I love being out here and I love being deployed and I really have a heart for the local Afghans who are terrorized by a small group of TB thugs who intimidate them so they don't even leave their houses.  We can be thankful we don't have to worry about getting blown up just driving out of our house, or that someone will come w/ a gun and make demands.  The one thing all these villagers want is peace, and that is it.


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jot a note!